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Nuclear Submarines

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL11260, tabled on 5 November 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Commanding Officers of nuclear submarines have access to a military lawyer about the law of armed conflict.

Answered on

13 November 2018

All Service personnel, including Commanding Officers of ballistic missile submarines, receive training on the law of armed conflict (LOAC), including during initial basic training phases, staff courses and promotion courses. Personnel are also required to undertake annual LOAC training to agreed standards.

Her Majesty's Government, which receives legal advice, is clear that the use of nuclear weapons - like all weapons - would be subject to the requirements of the LOAC. Only the Prime Minister can authorise the firing of nuclear weapons and the Commanding Officer of the ballistic missile submarine must confirm that the authorisation to fire meets the rigorous authentication processes in place.